Kenya’s YoungFreddie clothing, a designing company specializing in footwear, T-shirts, shorts, blazers, trousers and shirts with an African touch aims to promote local design and fashion and amke it timeless.
Founded by Fredrick Gitari aka Young Freddie, the store has a wide variety of comfort shoes, blazers, T-shirts, Chinos and vests ranging from the traditional African prints like Ankara from West Africa, Kitenge from East and Central Africa, Masaai prints from East Africa, Silk, Kente, leather and many others.
To Gitari the business came about from the desire to promote local fashion that can compete on an international level by promoting African culture.That’s why he designs shoes and clothing with an African timeless style.
“I was also inspired by the Maasai community who have maintained their culture and identity from generation to generation using their clothing. I wanted to come up with something that everybody will be comfortable to wear and be proud of, and that is why my designs have an African touch.”
Launched two years ago offline, Gitari took to a Facebook page called YoungFreddie Clothing to reach out to more customers and recently launched a website to take in both local and international orders, though the backend for the ordering system is not yet live.
With plans to go international, Young Freddie designs custom made shoes for customers acording to their specifications and style. Clients can also choose the type of shoes they want, the material to be used and the of course the size. Gitari who is a self-taught designer, designs the shoes and clothing, and does all the cutting and then a tailor stitches them together using stitching machine, adhesive glue in some parts and others handmade.
“First of all,my main challege has been on finance. This forces me to do other jobs just to make sure I afford materials or run some errand before an order is shipped to a customer. I also would like to own my own machines and a stall but I haven’t been able to afford them,” Gitari says. “Secondly, it’s been hard for people to appreciate our designs just because I design them locally, they expect to buy them cheaply.”
Gitari sees established footwear and fashion joints such as Bata retailers, Woolworths, Mr. Price, Jade and second hand outlets as competition. There are several designers trying their hand at what he does too. The Nailab incubated startup aims to raise funds to grow big, hire more and be able to meet the growing demand of African designs.